Thursday, July 7, 2011

Family Quirks

In the past few weeks I have lost three relatives.  The most recent, my cousin, Bev.  Bev started me on my ten year journey into our fraternal grandmother's family tree.  It is a fascinating and often frustrating exercise.  Bev, for whatever reason, went to the old cemetery in Elba.  She found the graves of our first ancestors to settle in Genesee County in 1811.She arrived on my doorstep one morning with her notes, left them with me and enjoyed watching me struggle with putting the pieces together for years.
I'd call her with updates when I would find an interesting tidbit. 
Bev lost her husband a year ago.  She has a wonderful family who will need our prayers as they gather the strength to deal with her sudden passing.
I'll miss her.
Another cousin, Pauline, also passed.  Pauline was 104.  She never married, lived in the same house her entire life, and loved cats.  Pauline's mother was my maternal grandfather's sister. 
Which brings us to my cousin, Minnie.  Minnie's father and my maternal great grandfather were brothers.  Their house was across from my cousin Pauline's.
....and therein lies the story of a family quirk (one of many).
My sister and I were on the phone early this morning.  I mentioned that Minnie had passed. 
She wasn't sure who that cousin was, so I automatically said, "you know, from across the street."
My sister chuckled.  My aunt had explained it the same way.
That brought back a memory of my mother saying the same thing about the family "across the street".
Now, my sister is much younger than I.  Saying 'across the street' had no real reference for her. 
"Across what street?".
My great grandfather and his brother purchased houses across from each other.  Since thier last names were the same, and their children's names were almost identical to my great grandparents' children, it was common to explain who you were talking about by their location.
In our case, and most likely in their's too, when talking about a Tony, James, Mary, Vincent, Minnie, etc., if you weren't talking about your own, you qualified it by saying, "you know, the one across the street.".
So, today, my sister got a little lesson in family folklore and another family quirk.